Subject really states my question plainly but I'll elaborate. I have a 2020 MacBook Pro 13 with 10th gen Intel i7, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB SSD. I also have an aging Mac Pro 2013 that has started to get bogged down in Final Cut Pro X -- the Voice Isolation setting Apple just added cripples playback. So I was thinking I may sell the Mac Pro and put that money towards an eGPU setup for my MacBook Pro.
My research has found that my particular MacBook has a more streamlined Thunderbolt 3 chipset that takes better advantage of eGPUs. I have basically settled on the Sonnet options (750ex with an RX 6800 XT) but I can find no solid information about this combo and using Final Cut. Can anyone speak to whether it would be worth it for me to attempt this configuration?
Also, I know it seems like everyone is moving on to M1 / M2 systems at this point and truthfully, I would love to do the same but sadly the value on these Intel Macs have dropped sharply since Apple started moving to their own silicon (lol my MacBook Pro is only worth $500 in trade at Apple, for example) and I still have a year of AppleCare on my MacBook, so I don't want to change over to a whole other system AND have a monthly payment.
I had an iMac 2019 9th Intel+Vega48 plus an eGPU Vega 56. My experience (more subjective than objective because i did not any numerical test) was that in apps that you can select an eGPU as Motion, the internal GPU worked better than eGPU. In FCP you can select into app an eGPU for share and render but it does not mean that FCP use both GPUs simultaneously. When clips was rendered on eGPU I saw (subjectively) better workflow in the graphical interface especially in the color correction and obviously less GPU internal temperature (iStat monitoring). If you add a RX6800XT navi tech you must see better results than a Vega tech but keep in mind the days of eGPU technology are numbered. I decided to sell my iMac and buy a Mac studio.
...I have basically settled on the Sonnet options (750ex with an RX 6800 XT)... I know it seems like everyone is moving on to M1 / M2 systems at this point and truthfully, I would love to do the same but sadly the value on these Intel Macs have dropped sharply since Apple started moving to their own silicon (lol my MacBook Pro is only worth $500 in trade at Apple, for example) and I still have a year of AppleCare on my MacBook, so I don't want to change over to a whole other system AND have a monthly payment.
But isn't the Sonnet 750ex and an RX 6800 XT about $1,400? You could get a 16GB M1 Mac Mini with 1TB SSD for that. OTOH I haven't tested voice isolation between late-generation Intel and Apple Silicon Macs. If that is a key performance metric I would not make the decision without a specific test on FCP voice isolation performance between a similar eGPU-equipped Intel machine vs Apple Silicon. I don't have a regular M1 or eGPU system to test, or I'd do it.
Developers are not likely to put resources into eGPU development or improvement. Now that Apple Silicon with GPU on the chip, the communication is much faster than on a PCIe or Thunderbolt bus. The communication is so much faster that a technically less powerful set of GPU cores may still be more productive due to the communication speed increase.
Hi! I want to thank everyone for adding in their opinions here. Spoiler alert and maybe against my better judgement, I went ahead and purchased the eGPU setup from Sonnet (750ex with 6800 XT) and it arrives later this week. I'll reply in line below with my justification and will report back on my experience with the eGPU once it is received. I have the option to return it if it sucks lol, so perhaps I'll come back to eat a lot of crow, we'll see!
I wish I could grab a Mac Studio but the cost is out of range for me currently. That said, I think when I add a second system again, it will definitely be a Mac Studio. I could maybe sell both my MacBook and my Mac Pro to get the base model Mac Studio but I still need a portable system of some sort because I travel a lot.
Responding to @
, the cost of the eGPU and 6800 XT was actually a little cheaper at $1050 USD and if I sell my Mac Pro 2013, it will basically cover the cost. In the past I would rely on two systems, and I may again in the future, but my thought was that for my current workflow, a single system is enough and the most economical upgrade was to lose the Mac Pro and prolong the life of my MacBook Pro 13" until I can afford a Mac Studio. My 2020 MacBook Pro 13" can actually handle the Voice Isolation option just fine, it was just my 2013 Mac Pro that seemed to struggle. The eGPU will almost certainly be an upgrade over the Intel GPU in my MacBook Pro (especially when it comes to rendering, sharing, or especially things like Neat Video noise reduction).
And while I think the M1 Mac Mini is a VERY capable system, it may not be a good fit for me due to my dual external monitor setup. I have an older 4K Dell monitor whose HDMI port only support UHD at 30Hz and then another aging Dell 5k monitor that requires two DisplayPort cables.
a completely valid point and I'm keeping my expectations in check. I'm hoping that macOS 14 will at least be compatible with my MacBook Pro so that I have a supported system through ~2024 but I could also see them cutting off support after macOS 13 releases this year. There's also a part of me that hopes somehow Apple adopts support of eGPUs on their silicon but after all the research I've done, I think it is very improbable.
Again, I really appreciate all your input and will keep it in mind as I do some testing next week with the eGPU. At best, it should let me keep my MacBook for a couple more years and at worst, I got into debt and grab an M1 MacBook or Studio lol
would love to do this but I don't think selling BOTH of my Macs would allow me to buy even the base level Mac Studio. Hopefully in the next year or so when I have more capital built up and I stop buying cameras (lol) I can grab one as a second system!
Thought I would add my final thoughts. Overall, I'm pleased with the purchase and I think this will extend the life of my MacBook for a few years. I can't sit here and tell you the performance is earth shattering but here are my bulleted observations:
1) External monitor support is super stable. It could have been Big Sur or whatever macOS shipped with this MacBook but I recall having lots of trouble getting external monitors to work at the time I received this system. I'm using two monitors (Dell 4K and Dell 5K, and the 5K requires TWO DisplayPort cables) that I also used with my Mac Pro 2013 (D500). Using this eGPU provides for a much faster "wake from sleep" experience on both monitors and other than some strangeness with the 5K I see now and then, it works better than it did on my Mac Pro. Both monitors are starting to show their age though and I'm hoping to replace them with matching monitors soon.
2) A lot of people have commented that when and how Final Cut uses the eGPU seems illogical. I have found that for rendering, especially with something like Neat or FilmConvert, the eGPU is utilized and overall, the render times are much faster than relying on the Intel GPU (or the D500s I had in the Mac Pro for that matter). However, I almost never see it use more than like 10% of the eGPU's power. And for exports, if you're exporting to H.264 or H.265, the MacBook's encoder is prioritized over whatever is in the eGPU. If, however, I choose to export a timeline I haven't bothered to render, the eGPU is then used to render everything and then the T2 encoder takes over for the export (this appears to happen simultaneously). All that said, I'm seeing significantly shorter export times.
3) One last observation, playback in the timeline is much smoother. So the experience of using Final Cut appears more stable. For my configuration, I have BOTH of my external monitors connected to the eGPU and my MacBook lid is closed. This supposedly forces the eGPU to be utilized for playback / timeline purposes and so far, that appears to be the case.
So to conclude, the purchase was worth it for me. And when I stop staring at Activity Monitor to see what the eGPU is doing and just, god forbid, use my MacBook, I'm getting great performance. I won't pretend that any editor can truly be compared to another but for my use, the eGPU allowed me to delay purchasing a new system for a couple more years and get rid of my secondary system. I've heard rumblings that Ventura will provide a little more support for eGPUs, at least insofar as being able to monitor eGPU temperature. That has me hopeful that Apple is still putting in driver work for AMD's offerings. Though I'm not fooling myself - I sincerely doubt we'll see eGPU support on an M1 / M2 Mac anytime soon, if ever.
Again, I appreciate those that gave their input and hope that this information can be useful for anyone in the same position I found myself a month back.